Shershaah is based on the life of Indian army captain Vikram Batra
Shershaah is based on the life of Indian army captain Vikram Batra

A slice of real life on OTT

Mostly all these are stories are based on true events but in some cases some have been dramatized a little bit, but still remain pretty close to what really happened
By Juhi Chakraborty
UPDATED ON SEP 10, 2021 06:48 PM IST

It seems that the reality bug has bitten the OTT in a big way as many real-life stories or semi-fictionalized accounts of any real life occurrence have found a footing on various platforms.

Some of them include Shershaah based on the life of Indian army captain Vikram Batra, Ajay Devgn’s Bhuj: The Pride of India which is set during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, web series Mumbai Diaries 26/11 which revisits the night of terrorist attacks on Mumbai on November 26, 2008, Empire about the Mughal Empire, State of Siege: Temple Attack inspired by the real-life terrorists attack on Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Randeep Hooda’s upcoming web series Inspector Avinash based on the real life events of super cop Avinash Mishra.

A still from web series Empire
A still from web series Empire

Mostly all these are stories are based on true events but in some cases some have been dramatized a little bit, but still remain pretty close to what really happened.

Shershaah director Vishnuvardhan says from a creative point of view, real life stories invariably have a lot of raw emotions attached to it.

“It becomes a story of not just one person but of all the people that shaped his life and made an impact towards his growth. When Shershaah came to me, I knew it was a story that needed to be told from every aspect of his life. This meant that the research process had to be up to the mark and it became imperative to get all the facts and details about his life right. And then came the challenge to maintain a balance between staying true to the source material and taking a cinematic liberty to have the flow in the story. In my opinion, a good biographical movie is a one that can achieve this delicate balance,” the director of the Sidharth Malhotra-starrer says.

Talking about Empire, actor Kunal Kapoor says the makers have been very clear to state that this is a piece of historical information, and it’s based on incidents in history.

“It’s been fictionalized. If we were claiming this is a biopic, and what the character was, then you feel a certain sense of finding out whether it is absolutely accurate, I think in that case, because we are saying it’s historical fiction, my attempt as far as an actor is concerned, is to be true to the source material, which is the book Empire of the Moghul: Raiders from the North by Alex Rutherford. I wasn’t apprehensive therefore about doing a show based on real life,” he says.

A still from The Big Bull
A still from The Big Bull

Filmmaker Anand Pandit, who was behind last year’ The Big Bull inspired by the life of Harshad Mehta says for him a biopic is about capturing the essence of a person, his or her struggles before their big leap into greatness or immortality.

“You can’t just pick a random moment from a life, instead must focus the story in such a way that people get to learn what a person stood for. The point is to not do too much or too little. I am looking forward to seeing Aretha Franklin’s biopic Respect which has created a lot of buzz and maybe one day, will make a biopic too about a life that has inspired and impacted my own,” he shares.

Trade expert Taran Adarsh believes that the relativity factor for the audience scores big for such projects.

“Not just films, web series that are inspired by many real life incidences are doing great on OTT. People like to relive some of those stories. Also I think real life inspired films or series are the best way to chronicle an event and also helps people remember them,” he explains.

For filmmaker Girish Malik, who drew inspiration from the situation in Afghanistan for his OTT released film Torbaaz, it was a challenge.

“It is very important to get it right and that is what worries a filmmaker. When you make films inspired by or based on real people, there is also a lot of responsibility that one feels as someone who is spearheading a project. My film Torbaaz drew inspiration from real life events that have happened in Afghanistan over the past two three decades or more. It was a sensitive subject because we are talking about refuges and terrorism and suicide bombers, I did a lot of research and studied so much about the history and met so many people just so I could get it right,” he adds.

A still from 200: Halla Ho
A still from 200: Halla Ho

Vikram Mehra, MD Saregama India says relatability and relevance is why real-life stories are a hit on OTT. He adds that the audience is able to empathise and relate more to real-life inspired stories rather than fictionalised characters and hence there’s a growing demand for such stories.

“The added bonus of real-life inspired stories for the filmmakers is that they already have a gripping and engaging story in place which had already caught the attention of the masses in the past - they just need to adapt it for the big screen. Hence, it comes as no surprise that our latest film, 200: Halla Ho which had a direct to digital release on Zee5 has been receiving a lot of love from the critics and audiences alike as it was inspired by a shocking real life incident,” Mehra shares.

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